Liverpool miss vital chance for perfect preparation as season-defining week awaits

19.02.2016


Held to goalless first leg in Germany, Liverpool’s draw with Augsburg saw the Reds pass up a huge opportunity to position themselves perfectly ahead of a vital week of the season.

AUGSBURG, GERMANY - Thursday, February 18, 2016: Liverpool's players line up for a team group photograph before the UEFA Europa League Round of 32 1st Leg match against FC Augsburg at the Augsburg Arena. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

A draw away from home in the first leg in European competition would usually be deemed a positive result, but for Liverpool in Augsburg it represents a big chance missed.

Becoming the first team to keep a clean sheet against the German side in the Europa League this season offers little consolation for a disappointingly tentative display, on a night the Reds should have pressed for what would have been a crucial advantage.

The bore draw leaves the tie trickily balanced for the Anfield return in seven days’ time, and Jurgen Klopp’s squad having unnecessarily made the League Cup final three days later that extra bit more difficult.

 

Reds Flat in Germany

AUGSBURG, GERMANY - Thursday, February 18, 2016: Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho Correia looks dejected after missing a chance against FC Augsburg during the UEFA Europa League Round of 32 1st Leg match at the Augsburg Arena. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Buoyed by thrashing Aston Villa 6-0 with a dazzling attacking display, Klopp’s unchanged Reds from the weekend massacre should have opened fire at Augsburg in similarly ruthless fashion.

A real opportunity to put themselves in a commanding position in the tie, thus allowing key men a night off ahead of the visit to Wembley presented itself to Klopp’s side, who should have prioritised vital away goals to wrap the game up as quickly as possible.

Frustratingly, the Reds failed to grasp it – which management and players may well regret as they reflect on the flight home – now increasing pressure on the looming season-defining double-header.

Klopp’s men were flat from the first whistle at the WWK Arena, starting too slowly which set the tone for a first half of nothingness.

Liverpool sat happily refusing to commit or concede, but they also failed to pose any real threat of their own, producing only tame long range efforts from Jordan Henderson and Daniel Sturridge, and a weak strike from Roberto Firmino.

And the Reds’ sluggishness was almost punished by Alexander Esswein in first half stoppage time who forced Simon Mignolet into a good save.

The second half saw an improvement as Klopp’s side showed more of the attacking fluidity the travelling Kop – and hospitable opposition – expected as the contest opened up.

But still lacking the courage to go after what would have been an invaluable victory, chances remained few and far between despite largely dominating the second period.

AUGSBURG, GERMANY - Thursday, February 18, 2016: Liverpool's Daniel Sturridge misses a chance against FC Augsburg during the UEFA Europa League Round of 32 1st Leg match at the Augsburg Arena. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Sturridge failed to connect with James Milner’s fizzed ball across inside the six-yard box in Liverpool’s best chance, while Toure somehow failed to meet Alberto Moreno’s in-swinging free-kick from just yards out.

A frustrating night almost turned to a poor one when Ji Dong Won saw his strike clip the outside of Mignolet’s post at the death, but the Reds at least escaped with an undesirable draw.


Oppositely to at Villa Park, the Reds failed to capitalise on the openings that presented, also lacking inspiration and individual brilliance required to make the difference in a disjointed performance in which Klopp bemoaned his side’s poor decision making in the final third.

Now they face the battle hoped would be avoided in Anfield’s second leg, denying Klopp’s key men a prolonged respite a precious away leg victory would have allowed ahead of meeting Man City at Wembley.

 

No League Cup Final Respite

AUGSBURG, GERMANY - Thursday, February 18, 2016: Liverpool's Emre Can applauds the travelling supporters after the goal-less draw against FC Augsburg during the UEFA Europa League Round of 32 1st Leg match at the Augsburg Arena. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

With the chance to prepare fully for their pursuit of first silverware since 2012, Klopp and his team should rue not attacking the Bundesliga strugglers.

Not doing so leaves Liverpool with a big job to ensure an exit doesn’t transpire on Merseyside just over 70 hours before kicking off at Wembley.

Klopp will have to play his strongest side again at Anfield against Markus Weinzerl’s men – which should be no problem following the welcome week rest Liverpool now have with a rare weekend without a fixture.

But instead of being a night of minimal pressure had Klopp’s men shown more ambition to return home with a key advantage, his side are left needing to produce a performance under the lights to ensure of a victory that keeps the season alive.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Saturday, November 21, 2015: Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho Correia in action against Manchester City's Martin Demichelis during the Premier League match at the City of Manchester Stadium. (Pic by Lexie Lin/Propaganda)

It must be acknowledged that Man City arrive for the final with only one day extra of rest after their Champions League outing with Dynamo Kiev, but that only adds to the frustration of the lax display produced in Klopp’s homeland.

There was not only an ideal chance to move into a strong position in the tie, but to also assist Klopp’s efforts to end Liverpool’s trophy drought just four months into his reign.


The chance for perfect preparation has been wasted, with the Reds now set to face Pelligrini’s side three days after the all-important second leg.

 

Big Second Leg Awaits

AUGSBURG, GERMANY - Thursday, February 18, 2016: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp applauds the travelling supporters after the goal-less draw against FC Augsburg during the UEFA Europa League Round of 32 1st Leg match at the Augsburg Arena. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Forgetting the avoidable extra pressure Liverpool have placed upon their own shoulders, the Reds now face a season defining tie at Anfield in a weeks’ time.

Proclaimed as his side’s most likely route into the Champions League by Klopp himself, the Reds cannot afford to compound a miserable campaign with a poor exit, which they, rather worryingly, could be forced to go to extra time and penalties to avoid next Thursday.

Defeat would see the season embarrassingly ended in mid-February, with the now increased tougher challenge against City the only game of significance left thereafter if Liverpool’s crash out, with a Premier League top four finish over.

Klopp’s side will need to improve hugely at Anfield and must play at a much quicker tempo than in Germany, where they seemed strangely content to settle for a draw.


Doing so, roared on by the unique Anfield crowd on a European night should be enough to see Liverpool through.

But at what cost possible progression comes at to the pursuit for League Cup glory remains to be seen.

AUGSBURG 0-0 LIVERPOOL

 

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22 COMMENTS

  1. Liverpool miss vital chance…

    Welcome to Missed Chances FC.
    We hope you stay long long time.
    Don’t worry. We won’t miss you.

    • I get the feeling Liverpool is the “rehab” of professional footballers, whenever your mind is damaged we will pay a ridiculous amount for you to help you feel like you are worth a wee bit more and if that doesnt help then we will put you in th first squad till you regain your mental legs,

      Heres a testimonial from some of our clients “Hi Im Simon, I came to this club with very much damage to mind and could not keep all these negative thoughts from going into my mind, much like football in net, *soft chuckle, here they let me play even though I drop morale and let silly games slip away and even to my surprise they pay me more money and keep playing me, LFC has helped me along with other broken players giving them a chance to regain form before we move on to succeed at other club”

      This is the only explanation.

  2. A simple draw, and some of Bodgers’ lemmings brought out their knives and started questioning Klopp’s tactics. That’s precisely why we need to reiterate Bodgers’ 3+ years of mediocrity, his failed transfers, his poor coaching methods, his clueless tactics, and the weak mentality that the players are left in. If we are to avoid talking about Bodgers, then all that is left is to blame the owners and Klopp, which is unfair. It will take time for Klopp to clear Bodgers’ mess. This season is about weeding out the players who neither have the skill nor the attitude to play for us, and to instill winning mentality back into them. When Klopp is able to build his own team, then we can start to judge after 2-3 seaons. Not now.

  3. Whatever happens we must not mess the league cup final up. I say rest studg,start origi. Lucas and caulker can come in also flanno or Randall.firm and couts will need to play hopefully ibe or lallana can up their game

  4. As i have said time and time again . one thing you are almost gaurenteed with this team is one excellent performance is followed by an utterly useles one….. or two or three.

    Unfortunatelyit doesnt work the other way around so don’t get your hopes up about the city game.

    • I choose to as the lethargic stuff displayed at the WWK Arena was a new low for the quality of players we had on the pitch. A cup final must surely spark something in the lads!

      • Who knows with this lot…. beat chelsea away next game lose at home to c.palace ….stuff man city 2 games later easily beaten to the bottom club newcastle who hadnt won in about 12 games or s.thing like that.
        A very good performance against arsenal 3-3 draw then lose to the worst man utd side in over 25 yrs to there only shot on target the entire game.
        beat top of the table leicester the 1 week later lose easily to west ham……Need i go on ?

  5. Completely disagree with this summation of the match. Typical of the way modern football has been perceived. First rule of battle – always fight your opponents on your own terms – those terms being Anfield.

    I grew up in the seventies when Liverpool were always ‘boring’ away from home and would take the game to them at Anfield.

    I thought we played well in phases and there was some nice passing to admire. Of course, Studge should have scored his chance, but we have to allow time to get to know an opponent we don’t have the luxury of playing week in, week out.

    Ausberg were’nt all that. I think we’ll dismantle them at home. Looking forward to a fine re-match.

    • Not sure I agree with you, I think this was a different scenario simply because of the Wembley final, nobody can deny that a good win last night would have put us in a much better position to prepare for that…
      I would agree that we should win the tie at Anfield, not doing so is unthinkable but things are never that straightforward, just look at how we reached the Capital One Cup final…
      I expect us to beat Augsburg but I can’t discount extra time and penalties, it shouldn’t come to that but I won’t be the least bit surprised if it does, it will be typical of our season…
      It wouldn’t surprise me if we have to suffer extra time and penalties at Wembley as well (I’d probably take that right now).
      We do have a tendency to do things the hard way…

    • The problem with those sentiments which in there time had there merits …. is that we dont dismanle teams at anfield these days in fact quite the opposite … have you had a look at our home record this season…… its shameful.

  6. I don’t understand, we started well under Klopp with the high pressing game serving us well, along with a kind of commitment to pass the ball forward and not back or sideways if avoidable.Anybody know why we seem to have discarded this approach

    • We haven’t ditched that approach at all… In the last match, Augsburg pressed us well and in the game before that, Villa were effectively killed off early and that’s why the players sat back.

  7. two massive games well that at least one dissappointment this squad does not heve two decent games on the trot in them ,

  8. To many rubbish in this squad!!milner is atrocious!! Honestly I can’t believe he is getting so much credit!!he shouldn’t be near our first team!our midfield is garbage aswell,Henderson can’t give a simple ball forward, he always try to be a Gerrard by dropping back into the back four to look for a pass forward,but most of the time it fails miserable,as he pis##s the ball away or passes to another defender!!! And for f##k sake,why is klopp always playing couthino on the wing? He is not a winger,he should be played in his natural number 10 position!!!

  9. I don’t want to be rude but I think this article is nonsense. The team picked for the second leg would have been strong because there is plenty of players available and you don’t want to lose momentum before the cup final. City have to travel to Kiev which is much worse than a home tie for us. He can play Benteke and Origi if he wants to start Sturridge plus they have a week off. The reality is that if they lose both games after a week off with all these players returning then the close proximity of the games then it was because they were poor and no other reason.

  10. Liverpool have shown they cannot play two good games in a row, so which one do you want them to play well in? Seeing as their last one was sub-par, then the next one will be decent and the one after that will be ordinary. So it looks like progression in the Europa and a fail in the cup final. Quite scientific, really ;) Given the choice between the two, I’d go for the League Cup. There is just one hurdle left in that comp and City are just as inconsistent as us, with their big guns out of form. Looking at the remaining teams in the Europa, I can’t see us being competitive against some of them.

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